Date of Award

Fall 11-2015

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Public Policy


Edward S. Rubin


In an effort to lower future CO2 emissions, a wide range of technologies are being developed to scrub CO2 from the flue gases of fossil fuel-based electric power and industrial plants. This thesis models one of several early-stage post-combustion CO2 capture technologies, solid sorbent-based CO2 capture process, and presents performance and cost estimates of this system on pulverized coal power plants. The spreadsheet-based software package Microsoft Excel was used in conjunction with AspenPlus modelling results and the Integrated Environmental Control Model to develop performance and cost estimates for the solid sorbent-based CO2 capture technology. A reduced order model also was created to facilitate comparisons among multiple design scenarios. Assumptions about plant financing and utilization, as well as uncertainties in heat transfer and material design that affect heat exchanger and reactor design were found to produce a wide range of cost estimates for solid sorbent-based systems. With uncertainties included, costs for a supercritical power plant with solid sorbent-based CO2 capture ranged from $167 to $533 per megawatt hour for a first-of-a-kind installation (with all costs in constant 2011 US dollars) based on a 90% confidence interval. The median cost was $209/MWh. Post-combustion solid sorbent-based CO2 capture technology is then evaluated in terms of the potential cost for a mature system based on historic experience as technologies are improved with sequential iterations of the currently available system. The range costs for a supercritical power plant with solid sorbent-based CO2 capture was found to be $118 to $189 per megawatt hour with a nominal value of $163 per megawatt hour given the expected range of technological improvement in the capital and operating costs and efficiency of the power plant after 100 GW of cumulative worldwide experience. These results suggest that the solid sorbent-based system will not be competitive with currently available liquid amine-systems in the absence of significant new improvements in solid sorbent properties and process system design to reduce the heat exchange surface area in the regenerator and cross-flow heat exchanger. Finally, the importance of these estimates for policy makers is discussed.